After failing to receive compensation from the airline, relatives of the 13 South Korean nationals who died in the 2007 PMT Air flight U4 241 crash have been reimbursed for their loss by the travel agency that issued the tickets, a law firm said yesterday.
According to Seoul law firm Suh & Co., 17 South Korean family members of the passengers who died when the chartered plane crashed into a mountain in Kampot province received between $26,000 and $44,000 each from South Korean travel agency HanaTour in an out of court settlement.
Suh & Co. declined to say when the families were compensated.
“[A]ny additional claims may now be time barred considering the long time lapse since the incident,” the law firm said in an email.
HanaTour did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
Thirteen South Koreans were among 16 passengers and six crew killed when a Soviet-made Antonov-24 operated by Cambodian airline PMT crashed en route to Sihanoukville from Siem Reap City on June 25, 2007.
Relatives of the five Cambodian passengers aboard the plane when it crashed have not been as successful as their South Korean counterparts with their claim.
“We have not received anything. We hope the government will help us receive compensation,” said Top Both, brother of Top Chan Chanthu, who had been a flight attendant for PMT.
“It doesn’t matter the amount: It would be great if we could get the same amount as the Koreans and it’s okay if we get less,” said Mr. Both
“I don’t know where to go and who to ask for help,” said Heang Sorphon, the widow of Uth Chandara, one of the plane’s pilots.
Ho Vandy, co-chair of a government-private working group on tourism policy, said that the government must take responsibility for ensuring that the Cambodian victims are compensated.
“This is the government’s and the airline’s [PMT’s] responsibility. The travel agencies don’t know the policy of the airline,” Mr. Vandy said, “This is a big deal that the government should consider.”
PMT, which operated out of Phnom Penh from 2003, suspended operations in 2008. Former PMT director Sar Sareth could not be reached yesterday, although has said previously that PMT is not responsible for compensating the victims’ families because the plane that crashed was on loan from a Russian company.
At the time of the accident in 2007, officials blamed the crash on bad weather conditions. The aircraft dropped off the radar in heavy rain 32 km outside of Siem Reap City.